JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- According to documents obtained by Action News, a former college football star and NFL defensive lineman owes more than $50,000 in back child support to the mother of his 17-year-old daughter.
Eric Curry starred at the University of Alabama. He even earned All-America honors and was a part of the 1992 National Championship team.
He then went on to become the sixth overall pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL Draft. He ended his career playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1999.
Curry lives in Jacksonville. His daughter, Ashanti Curry, says she’s never known her father, but he was the one person standing in the way of her realizing a dream.
Ashanti was accepted to the U.S. Naval Academy, but she needed his signature in order for her acceptance to go through. She called her father and asked him to sign, but a week passed, and still, nothing was done.
“This man has never made one decision in my life, but the most important decision that needs to be made, he has in his hands. I was very upset,” said Ashanti.
Tammie Dean, Ashanti’s mother, tells Action News she and Curry have been locked in a child support battle for years. She believed that was the reason he wouldn’t sign the Naval Academy acceptance.
“I’m 95 percent sure that was the reason,” said Dean.
Action News spoke with Eric Curry’s attorney, in North Carolina, who counters that. Jason Hegg says his client is proud of Ashanti’s accomplishment, and the only thing that stood in the way of him signing the document was the active warrant out for Curry’s arrest in Duval County for unpaid child support.
Curry’s attorney says they are fighting a 2011 court decision that increased child support for Ashanti from $257 per month to $2,600 per month. According to Hegg, Curry did not attend the hearing and did not have legal representation there. So essentially, there was no one there fighting on Curry’s behalf. A July 19 court hearing is scheduled in North Carolina where Curry will try to have that decision set aside.
Action News reached out to Eric Curry, who confirmed he had spoken to his daughter, but he would not say what was holding up his signature.
After reaching out to Senator Bill Nelson’s office to intervene on Ashanti’s behalf, Action News learned a stay of the arrest warrant had been filed in Duval County. Three hours later, Eric Curry met with a military recruiter and signed the Naval Academy release.
“I got a call saying that everything we’ve been pushing for and working for finally happened. Mr. Curry signed that paper,” says Ashanti. “I just want to thank you guys and everyone who helped me, and I’d like to thank Mr. Curry for signing.”
Because she is 17, Ashanti plans to attend Naval Academy Prep School. Her first day is July 23. Once at Annapolis, she plans to study Cyber Operations.